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PAWSD 2008 audit report: ‘You’re doing great’

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors met in regular session Tuesday night and, among other things, received a 2008 financial audit report from outside consultants. In summary, senior auditor Karla Willschau said, “You’re doing great.”

As a CPA and shareholder for the Alamosa accounting firm, Wall, Smith, Bateman & Associates Inc., Willschau oversees the firm’s entire audit department and participates in reporting all client audits. As the audit shareholder representing PAWSD, she also performs financial audits for Archuleta County.

Oddly enough, given the current political air around Pagosa Springs and particularly Archuleta County, just one county official attended Tuesday’s PAWSD meeting. County Commissioner Bob Moomaw listened as Willschau addressed the water district board, yet refrained from asking questions regarding the state of district finances. Moomaw passed on what may have been an ideal opportunity to explore PAWSD debt versus revenue — a current county focus in what local Realtor Jim Smith has suggested is an effort to dissolve the district and fold it into the county’s jurisdiction.

Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta Economic Development Association representatives, certain builders, developers and key members of the local business community were also absent Tuesday night. While many had recently expressed concern over district development-related fees, none seized the opening to scrutinize related finances.

Pagosa Springs Association of Realtors (PSAAR) Director Jan Santopietro attended Tuesday’s meeting, but also asked nothing of PAWSD finances.

During a July 14 PAWSD meeting, when town and county officials asked the PAWSD board to temporarily waive development-related fees, Santopietro stood and read a PSAAR position statement that amounted to a scathing review of PAWSD policies, fees and the performance of its board of directors. The statement concluded with an expression of support for the resignation of the current PAWSD board and top management.

Even as the few in attendance remained mum during Willschau’s audit review, PAWSD director Bob Huff seemed to sense the likelihood of underlying skepticism. Following Willschau’s reflection of various numbers indicating the district‘s financial health, Huff exclaimed, “I don’t really want detailed numbers, I want to know how we’re doing. Are we legal, are we meeting debt obligations, are we OK?”

In response, Willschau said, “During the audit, we make sure reported assets exist and they’re valued fairly. You’re exceeding requirements. If you weren’t, bond counsel would be after you. You have a margin for error, you have necessary reserves in place, and debt service coverage is fine. You’re meeting all the requirements.”

Huff then asked Willschau if she could grade the district on its 2008 financial performance.

With that, Willschau replied, “You’re doing great. You have good controls in place. We have everything we need to verify that your numbers are correct. It’s a good audit.”

Still not entirely satisfied, Huff prodded once more, “Then, would you give us an ‘A’?”

Half-chuckling, Willschau finally agreed, “Yes, I’d give you an ‘A’.”

Officially speaking, a portion of the audit report read, “In our opinion, the financial statements referred to above present fairly, in all material respects, the respective financial position of the governmental activities, the business type activities, and each major fund of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District, Colorado, as of December 31, 2008, and the respective changes in financial position and cash flows, where applicable, thereof, for the year then ended in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.”

As provided by the district itself, some financial highlights are as follows:

• The District’s net assets total $66,006,122, an increase of $4,298,383 over the previous year.

• Operating expenses of $5,935,994 exceeded operating revenues of $5,008,646 by $927,348.

• General revenues total $3,051,017.

• Capital contributions are for system investment fees and total $1,836,716.

While Willschau reminded PAWSD that no one can predict the future and good controls must always remain in place, district finances seem solid at this point. Perhaps, the 2008 PAWSD audit will ease community concerns, at least in respect to board and staff fiscal performance.